Temporary arterial shunts in damage control: Experience and outcomes

Sarah Mathew, Brian P. Smith, Jeremy W. Cannon, Patrick M. Reilly, C. William Schwab, Mark J. Seamon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Background: Arterial shunting is a well-described method to control hemorrhage and rapidly reestablish flow, but optimal shunt dwell times remain controversial. We hypothesized that prolonged shunt dwell times of more than 6 hours are related to adverse outcomes after major arterial injury. Methods: A review (2005-2013) of all patients with arterial shunts placed after traumatic injury at our urban Level I trauma center was undertaken. Patients who died prior to shunt removal (n = 7) were excluded. Shunt complications were defined as dislodgement, thrombosis, and distal ischemia. Patients were compared on the basis of shunt complications with respect to clinical parameters. Results: The 42 patients who underwent arterial shunting after major vascular injury were primarily young (median, 26 years; interquartile range [IQR], 22-31 years) males (97.6%), severely injured (Injury Severity Score, 17.5 [IQR, 14-29]; shunted vessel Abbreviated Injury Scale score, 4 [IQR, 3-4]) by gunshot (85.7%) requiring neck/torso (33.3%) or upper-extremity (19.1%) or lower-extremity (47.6%) shunts. Thirty-five patients survived until shunt removal, and 5 (14.3%) of 35 developed shunt complications. Demographics and clinical characteristics were compared between those with shunt dwell times of less than 6 hours (n = 19) and more than 6 hours (n = 16). While patients appeared to have a greater injury burden overall in the group with dwell times of more than 6 hours, there were no statistical differences between groups with respect to age, gender, initial systolic blood pressure or hemodynamics during the shunt dwell period, use of vasopressors, Abbreviated Injury Scale score of the shunted vessel, Injury Severity Score, or outcomes including limb amputation or mortality. No patients (0/19) with shunt dwell times of less than 6 hours developed complications, whereas 5 (31.3%) of 16 patients with dwell times of more than 6 hours developed shunt complications (p = 0.05). Conclusions: In this civilian series, 14% of patients with arterial shunts developed shunt complications. Our data suggest that limiting shunt dwell times to less than 6 hours when clinically feasible may decrease adverse outcomes. Level of Evidence: Therapeutic/care management study, level IV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)512-517
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Arterial injury
  • arterial shunt
  • damage control surgery
  • major vascular injury
  • temporary intravascular shunt


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